May 21, 2017I Peter 3:1 – 9Marriage 

     I think it is good to dosome messages that focus on the family.  Mother’s, Father’s and Children’s day come in May and June so I usually do a couple of messages in that time frame.  Last week was Mother’s day.  I am reading a book complied by Jim Daly and what he did was have several well-known pastors and Christian people write a chapter on marriage.  The book title is the best advice I ever got on Marriage.  I know we have some unmarried folks in church so I also make it applicable to all of us.  It is not a time for any of us to tune out.   I want to say that marriage has its challenges.  Marriage is not easy today.  The people that have to get married usually are the least prepared to marry.  When you live with someone little things the other person does begins to irritate.

   Ken Blanchard had traveled to India a number of times and ask his guide one day who had given tours to many Americans.  Ken asked him what is the difference between an arranged marriage in India and a typical American marriage.   He said the assumption in an arranged marriage in India is that in time you will fall in love with the person you married.  With American marriages, I get the impression that you fall in love before the marriage and then fall out of love during the marriage.  Ouch   That kind of hurts.  Marriage is hard work.  God wants us to die to our self.    Marriage and family helps us do that.   I do not think it is hard work forever but you have to be careful not to ignore each other.  Do not look at the little things that bug you but remember all the great things that you saw in him or her when you married them.  Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on the positive good things.

   Dr. Greg Smalley wrote the best marriage advice that he got was from the unlikely source of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman.  That was a CBS TV show back in the 1990’s that Jane Seymour was in.  She developed a jewelry line with Kay Jewelers called an open-heart collection.  The idea behind it was if your heart is open that love will find its way in.  An open heart is a fundamental key part of a good marriage.  Typically when we get upset with someone we want to close our heart off to that person.   We begin to withdraw ourselves from them.   An open heart communicates that there are no walls between me and another person.  It seems to me that is a key to good relationships.  It is a key to trust.  If I close my heart to you then I do not trust you.  There are people who close their heart to God.  Christians can do that.  We might ask ourselves if our heart is totally open to Jesus.  God said over and over again that his people had a hard heart or you could say a closed heart.  

    What does an open heart reveal?   What does it mean?   Well for one thing you hand another person your very innermost being.  Your innermost being you entrust to someone else to care for it.   There is no hiding and no secrets.  You are comfortable about telling that other person things that are very close to you.   You are not afraid that they will step on your heart or take that information and share it with others.   You trust that they would not use that information against you.  What do people look for in good relationships?   They want to have fun, passion, friendships, intimacy and a deep connection.  There are no lies and no hiding in that relationship.

     When Adam and Eve sinned they hid.   They closed their heart to God.  That which was safe and protected was stolen and removed.  It will be restored again when sin is removed.   Today we struggle with being transparent and open.   We go through life with walls and guard around our heart.   We have been hurt and we learn to close and seal the deep things in our life.   We can bury them so deep that we may not be aware of what is in us.  Christians can build a solid and open relationship with God.  Couples with a good relationship develop a marriage that is the safest place on earth.  Jesus warned us against the hardening of your hearts when Jesus said Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hardened.  A hardened heart is not an open heart.  It is a closed heart. 

   Creating a safe place is very important.   God understands that.  In Proverbs 18:10 we read the name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.  As you read the bible you get the sense that theme of safety runs through all of scripture.  God has made a safe place for us in heaven.  We sense that we are safe with God and not safe with the world and the devil.  The demon possessed guy from Gadara would cry and cut himself with stones.  The demons were not good to him.  In Matthew 17 we see the boy that the disciples could not heal that cast himself in the fire and water and Jesus rebuked the demon and the boy was healed from that moment. 

    Safety means a lot to people.  We like the things on new cars today that help us drive safely. There has bene a lot in the news lately about creating safe place for people to go that need help with drugs.  People made bomb shelters back in the 60’s to protect them from nuclear blasts.  How safe is it for a stranger to come into a church?   Is one reason they do not come because they do not feel safe?  A couple looking for a church that has children want a safe place for their kids.  We build our homes to protect us from the elements and we put locks on them to keep robbers out.  Many parents have moved or paid to put their children in what they consider a safer environment for school. 

    Creating safety in a relationship is attitude and it is action.  In I Peter 3 we see some important commands that help to bring an open and loving relationships in life and in marriage.  Scripture speaks of inner beauty and reverence.  It speaks of that to women but applies to men also.  Scripture speaks of a gentle and quiet spirit which is of great worth to God.  I suppose that some men may look at this and say well the passage points and is spoken to women.  It does not apply to me.  So, are you going to say that God does not want a quiet and gentle spirit in men?   I am reminded that Jesus said he was meek and lowly in heart.  The bible tells us that kindness makes a man attractive and it makes a woman attractive also.  That is one of the things that attracted me to Sally.    Even though these verses in Peter were spoken to the women they also relate to men.

     To the men the bible says be considerate as you live with your wife and treat her with respect.  That is also applies to all of your relationships.  I believe it applies to men and women.   I suppose women could look at that and say it does not apply to me.  In Ephesians 5 the bible tells the wife to respect her husband.  I think this applies in the business world.  It applies in the market place.  People that have an open heart to one another respect each other.  They trust each other.    Respect is important in relationships.  Consideration is important.   Think about your relationships with others.  There is effort involved.  It takes effort to consider and to think about others. 

    In verse 8 we read finally all of you live in harmony with one another, be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.  Live in harmony.   Some would say well he is difficult to live with.   You do not know how she acts.  We all have our stuff.  We learn to be more like Jesus when others try us.  We learn to love by being around other people and sometimes those people can be very difficult to be around.      Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult but with blessing because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.  God sends the rain and sun on the just and the unjust.  Be good to those who are bad to you.  Be not overcome with evil but overcome evil with good.  The bible says all of you live in harmony.  That must apply to husbands and wives then.  All of you be sympathetic must apply to husbands and wives.   A husband is a you.   A wife is a you.  All of you be compassionate and humble must apply to husbands and wives.   Do you think I am misapplying the bible when I say that?  

   Well sometimes the last thing in the world I want to do is to bless.   Sometimes the last thing I want to do is to be humble and compassionate.  I am glad God is perfect in his love.  We need to keep our heart open.  Do not close off your heart to others.  If something bad comes your way send something good back especially in your family especially to your spouse.   How can you apply that today in your life to your spouse, your children, society, government to coworkers etc.?   Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.  Peter writes that our prayers can be hindered if we do not apply this to our life.  This is important to the Lord.  Sin hinders answers to prayer.  Broken relationships can hinder answers to prayer. 

  Greg Smalley tells the story about his daughter Maddy when they were getting ready for vacation.   He thought everyone was in the car but Maddy was in the house looking for her favorite beanie baby named Gracie.  Greg did not want her to take Gracie to Disney World in case she lost it and then they would need to get a replacement.   Maddy never went anywhere without Gracie so he finds Maddy in the house and tells her she needs to leave Gracie home.  She protests.  Greg tells her that Gracie her doll can watch the house while they are gone.  His daughter tells him Barry Wonderful can watch the house while they are gone. 

    Erin his wife tells him that that Barry Wonderful was the stuffed Saint Bernard dog that she had.  Then he said you need to leave Gracie home.  They were going back and forth about it and finally he gets stern about it go and put Gracie back.  She starts to cry and asks if Disney world was going to be fun.  He said yes but we have to go so we do not lose their flight.  Maddy slowly handed Gracie to him and said.   I love Gracie so much that I want you to take her to Disney world and I will stay home and watch the house.  Greg suddenly had thoughts about the Home Alone movie that came out.  I think by then he realized that he was in a losing situation.  His parenting skills were probably not the best in that situation.  It is good to know when to retreat and admit defeat. 

     You have to apply the word of God if you want to change.  Knowledge puffs up but love edifies.  A person can be very learned about the bible and yet be a baby Christian.   At a marriage seminar Greg Smalley ask 1000 couples to answer the question I feel love when you….   Here are some of the answers.  When you pray with me and for me.   When you love, and accept me unconditionally.   How many people do you love unconditionally?   When you accept my influence, and are teachable.  When you allow me to inner into your inner world.   When you seek to understand me before being understood.   When you validate my feelings.  When you reassure me of your love.  When you act curious about me and ask a lot of questions.

   When you spend time with me.  When you plan our future together.   When you serve me in ways that are meaningful to me.   When you have fun, and laugh with me.  When you take time to work through conflict.  When you comfort me when I am down.  When you correct me gently and tenderly.  When you compliment me often.  When you meet my sexual needs.   When you forgive when I offend you.  When you tell me how much you appreciate me.  When you lead our family in a spiritual relationship with God.  When you take time to notice what I have done for you.  When you treat me as if God had stamped the words handle with care on me for head.  All of that makes sense.  What does this passage say live in harmony with each other, be compassionate, be humble, be considerate and respect one another.